Con Ed and the union representing 9,000 members agreed to extend their contract negotiations for another three days, after Governor David Paterson intervened late yesterday.

The governor's spokesman Errol Cockfield said Paterson "expressed his concern that there should be no disruption in services and asked them to agree to a...cooling-off period. The governor suggested this time would allow tempers to subside and then both parties could return to the bargaining table in a more measured and rational manner." Yeah - the last thing Paterson wants is a strike, even if he's recovering from cataract surgery.

The union, Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers Union of America which represents the majority of Con Ed's workforce, wants a better package of wages, health care benefits and pensions and was insulted by Con Ed's only offer in a week and a half--a 0.5% raise for the first year, followed by 1% in later years. Union spokesman Joe Flaherty said, "We hope Con Ed will come to its senses and start bargaining in good faith in the interest of the good people of New York City and Westchester County, who would be inconvenienced."

And while Con Ed has previously said its management was ready to work if workers went on strike (pointing out managers had come from up from the ranks, too), Con Ed spokesman Michael Clendenin said, "It's not a matter of if [a contract is worked out] but when."

The old contract runs out at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday. The last strike was in 1983.